Movie Reviews

The Offer: 8 Things The Show Changed About The True Story

Summary

  • The Offer, a new Paramount+ series, takes a deep dive into the making of The Godfather. While the show is based on true events, it takes some creative liberties to make the story more dramatic. Here are some of the biggest inaccuracies in the series:
  • The character of Barry G. is a composite of multiple people.
  • Paramount’s disinterest in Al Pacino was mainly due to his looks.



Making a show about one of the greatest movies of all time is bound to be looked at quite closely by fans and those familiar with the subject matter and the Paramount+ series The Offer certainly does change a lot in this behind-the-scenes look at The Godfather. Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Mario Puzo’s best-selling crime novel is an iconic movie and the stories about what it took to bring it to the big screen are the stuff of Hollywood legend. The Offer has a lot of fun telling this wild show business tale, even if not everything is accurate.

The show mostly focuses on the ones behind the camera, such as the passionate director Coppola, the suave Hollywood player Robert Evans, and the underdog producer Al Ruddy. Of course, many of the big names associated with the movie, such as Al Pacino, James Caan, and Marlon Brando are also featured. There are even some real-life mafia figures brought into the tale. While some of the wild stories are true, it is important to separate fact from fiction after watching The Offer.


Related

The Offer Cast, Character & Real Life Comparison Guide

The Offer, Paramount+’s TV series about the making of The Godfather, boasts an all-star cast portraying the real-life people behind the iconic film.


Barry Lapidus Is A Fictional Character

The Character Represents The Various Executives Who Were Against The Movie

Part of the fun of The Offer is seeing the dramatization of Hollywood featuring a lot of notable real-life figures. Even with some of the lesser-known figures in the story like Al Ruddy, audiences can find plenty of information on him and his involvement in the production. The same cannot be said for the character of Barry Lapidus, played by Colin Hanks. Lapidus is the studio suit who is against the movie from the beginning and becomes a thorn in the side of Coppola, Evans, and Ruddy. However, unlike those three men, he is not real.


It is not that a character like Barry didn’t exist, but rather that there were so many of them they couldn’t all be included.

Hanks described the character as “a composite of a bunch of different people(via THR) of people within Paramount who did not have faith in the movie and who tried to get it shut down. In fact, it is not that a character like Barry didn’t exist, but rather that there were so many of them they couldn’t all be included. With him largely being a character that the audience is meant to dislike, it makes sense that the show decided to just create a character to fill that role.

Paramount’s Disinterest In Al Pacino Was About Looks


In The Offer, Francis Ford Coppola has envisioned Al Pacino playing one of the lead roles: Michael Corleone. Bob Evans, played by Matthew Goode, is adamantly against the casting for seemingly unclear reasons. Fans can infer that it’s mainly due to the relative unknown of the actor at the time, compared to desired picks like Robert Redford and Jack Nicholson. However, the truth behind the reluctance to cast the future star had less to do with his status in the business and more to do with his looks.

According to the real Francis Coppola (via YouTube), the studio envisioned a blonde actor with blue eyes as they believed that’s what a real Sicilian at the time would look like. There was also a stigma about Pacino’s height, as referenced in the show by Bob Evans. It would have been interesting for the show to lean more into this reason. The series shows that Pacino’s pure intensity in the role helped to make Evans and others see he was the right choice. This might have been more impactful had the point been that his acting made his looks unimportant.


Marlon Brando’s Screen Test Was A Studio Demand

Brando Was Not The Obvious Choice For Everyone

Marlon Brando’s Oscar-winning performance as Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather is one of the most famous performances in movie history. As such, The Offer portrays Brando as an almost mystical character in the story. Everyone reverses him and is immediately intimidated by her presence, thrilled that he agreed to be part of their movie. It’s true that Brando did take an interest in the project due to a letter from author Mario Puzo and was Coppola’s first choice for the role.


However, the studio considered Brando a financial risk, as depicted in the series, and one of their conditions for hiring was Coppola conducting a private screen test with the actor. The scene is depicted in The Offer as more of a meet and greet in the series, with Al Ruddy, Mario Puzo, and Francis Ford Coppola all going to pitch the film to Brando.

Marlon Brando’s miraculous invention of Vito Corleone was properly shown, as the actor did mention the bulldog-like face and the use of cotton balls to create the look.

Including the studio’s hesitancy about casting Brando in the show might have made him a more complex character, rather than the surface-level cameo he provides. It would have made him something of an underdog with something to prove as the star of the past who Hollywood has lost faith in. However, with the casting issue of Pacino, it might have felt too repetitive, explaining why they decided to limit Brando’s role.


The Mafia Involvement Was Overblown

Joe Colombo Was Not Against The Movie Actually Being Made

The storyline of Joe Colombo and his involvement in the making of The Godfather seems too absurd to be true, but this was actually one of the most accurate depictions in the show, according to a New York Times article from 1971. However, not content with the wildness of real-life mobsters getting involved in a movie about the mob, the show decided to take some liberties with the details to make it all the more dramatic.

This mostly concerns the meeting between Ruddy and Colombo in which he, and by extension, the Italian American Civil Rights League, approved the movie script so long as it removed any mention of the mafia. In The Offer, Ruddy is grabbed off the street and taken to a face-to-face meeting with Colombo, which has a threatening tone. However, according to Mark Seal’s Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli, on which the show is based, the meeting was planned long in advance and included hundreds of members of the league.


There Were No Threats On The Production

Joe Colombo Didn’t Take Things That Far

The series shows that Joe Colombo was angered by the book The Godfather and that it being turned into a movie was what led to him starting the Italian American Civil Rights League. This also led to him taking more extreme measures to ensure that the production did not continue, including taking a shot at Ruddy’s car and making a threatening phone call to Robert Evans.

In reality, Colombo and the league’s objections to the movie were never as serious as the show portrays as their main concern was removing the word “mafia” from mainstream use. Peter Bart was a producer on The Godfather and is featured in a small supporting role in the show. While he remembers that Ruddy had some concerns about what the mob might do, Bart insists he spoke with several key members of the production, including Evans (via Deadline):


Evans himself assured me that no such call had been received. His then-wife, Ali MacGraw, reiterated again last week that she had never witnessed threats of this sort.

Some Disagree With How Supportive Bob Evans Was

Coppola Argued With Evans About His Involvement

One of the best performances in The Offer comes from Matthew Goode as producer Robert Evans. Known for his work in movies like Chinatown, Evans is a character himself, and an entertaining figure in this story. However, one of the most contested aspects of the making of The Godfather is the role that Evans played in the overall production. Indeed, The Offer gives the impression that he was a staunch supporter of the movie and helped fight many of the biggest battles to get it made.


The show also depicts Evans and Coppola as strong collaborators who mostly got along well throughout the production. This was certainly not the case as the fighting and bad blood between these two have been well-documented. While Evans was known for taking credit for shaping the movie in post-production, Coppola once wrote in a letter to Evans (via LA Times):

“You did nothing on ‘The Godfather’ but annoy me and slow it down. That is why Charlie [Bluhdorn] put in the ‘Godfather II’ contract that you could have nothing to do with the movie.”

Frank Sinatra Did Not Try To Shut Down The Movie

Sinatra’s Feud Was With Mario Puzo And His Book


The Offer depicts that it is not just the mob who takes issue with The Godfather movie and wants to see it shut down, but an iconic Hollywood figure as well. Throughout the first episode of the series, it is mentioned several times that Frank Sinatra is not happy with Mario Puzo’s novel or the movie being made. It was long rumored that the Godfather character of Johnny Fontane, a washed-up entertainer who uses his mob ties to further his career, was based on Sinatra.

It was Puzo who was introduced to Sinatra and the argument never turned violent.

In The Offer, Sinatra actually appears in a scene in which a starstruck Puzo comes to say hello to Sinatra at a fancy restaurant, only for Sinatra to yell at him and the two men to get in an altercation. According to Puzo himself, a confrontation like this really did take place (via New York Magazine). However, it was Puzo who was introduced to Sinatra and the argument never turned violent.


Like the mob involvement, the extent of Sinatra’s anger was overblown. The show suggests Sinatra urged the mob to take action to shut down The Godfather which led to Colombo making the threats. However, Sinatra only took issue with the book and his grievance seemed to stop with that initial blowout with Puzo. According to Francis Ford Coppola, Sinatra even suggested that he could play Vito Corleone (via Den of Geek).

Finding A Director Was Not So Simple

Francis Ford Coppola Was Uninterested In The Source Material

The process of hiring Al Pacino was a long, drawn-out storyline in The Offer, while Francis Ford Coppola was seemingly picked early on. The movie shows Ruddy flying to meet with Coppola in person to persuade him to take the job. Though the filmmaker is initially wary about the material and the thought of glorifying mob violence as an Italian American himself, it takes one meeting with Ruddy to finally convince him to direct the movie.


In reality, the process of getting Coppola on board was not as easy. While Peter Bart is shown as the one who suggests hiring Coppola, he was actually the one to convince the director to take the job instead of Ruddy (via Deadline). However, he confirms that it took a lot of persuasion on his part to get the director onboard as Coppola was unimpressed with Puzo’s novel. In the end, it was more Coppola’s financial necessities that led to him taking the job.

the offer

The Offer

The Offer is a Paramount+ limited series telling the untold story behind the making of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. The ten episodes center on producer Albert S. Ruddy and his experience working on the motion picture that would go on to become one of the most critically acclaimed films of all time.

Release Date
April 28, 2022

Seasons
1

Writers
Michael Tolkin

Directors
Adam Arkin

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